LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., April 16, 2012 Ė The 2012 World Acrobatic Gymnastics Championships are set for their North American debut today, when competitors from 23 countries flip, twist and dance their way to World titles and berths to the 2013 World Games. The competition, which brings the 2010 World champions for menís and womenís pairs and womenís group back to defend their titles, runs April 16-18 at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complexís HP Field House, located at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Later in the week, the 2012 World Age Group Competition will be held April 20-22 in conjunction with the World Championships.
Along with world titles, the gymnasts will also be vying for spots to the 2013 World Games, the multi-sport global competition for non-Olympic sports, in Cali, Colombia. The 2012 World Championships will include all acro disciplines: menís, womenís and mixed pairs, as well as menís and womenís groups.
The United States has brought a young, talented team that will compete in the womenís pair, womenís group and mixed pair events. The U.S. Team features:
Womenís pair Ė Beth Landeche, New Orleans, La., and Nicole Barrilleaux, Metairie, La., of Crescent City Gymnastics
Womenís group Ė Sienna Colbert, Riverside, Calif., Holli Morris, Beaumont, Calif., and Crystal Johnston, Riverside, Calif., of Empire Gymnastics
Mixed pair Ė Kelianne Stankus, Riverside, Calif., and Dylan Maurer, Colton, Calif., of Empire Gymnastics
In womenís pair, Kateryna Sytnikova and Anastasiya Melnychenko of Ukraine, the 2010 World champions, will attempt to defend their title against a strong crop of challengers, including Sviatlana Mikhnevich and Yana Yanusik of Belarus, who won this monthís Maia Acro World Cup in Portugal.
The reigning womenís group gold-medalists Aigul Shaikhutdinova, Ekaterina Stroynova and Ekaterina Loginova are also back for another round and have presented strong performances in recent competitions.
Great Britainís Edward Upcott won the 2010 World menís pair title with then partner Douglas Fordyce, and he hopes to repeat with his new partner, Adam Mcassey. Chinaís Tang Jian, Wang Lei, Zhou Yi and Wu Yeqiuyin enter the World Championships as the worldís top-ranked menís group and will attempt to claim the top place on the podium.
Competition begins with two days of qualification rounds, which decides the team medalists and the athletes who advance to Wednesdayís finals. In the finals competition, gold, silver and bronze medals will be up for grabs with live, web streaming coverage available on ESPN3.com, beginning at 4pm ET.
The complete schedule is (all times Eastern):
- Session 1: 10am (Womenís Group Balance, Mixed Pair Dynamic)
- Session 2: 2pm (Womenís Pair Balance, Menís Group Dynamic)
- Session 3: 3.30pm (Menís Pair Dynamic)
- Session 4: 6pm (Womenís Group Dynamic, Mixed Pair Balance)
- Session 5: 10 a.m. (Womenís Pair Dynamic, Menís Group Balance)
- Session 6: 11:30 a.m. (Menís Pair Balance)
- Session 7: 2 p.m. (Womenís Group Combined, Mixed Pair Combined)
- Session 8: 4:45 p.m. (Womenís Pair Combined, Menís Group Combined)
- Session 9: 7 p.m. (Menís Pair Combined)
Finals Ė April 18
- Session 10: 4pm Womenís, Menís and Mixed Pairs, and Menís and Womenís Group
Tickets for the event are available by visiting the ESPN Wide World of Sports Box Office. Qualification tickets are available for $20, with tickets to the finals priced at $35. An all-session (qualification and finals) package is available for $50.
Local organizations assisting with the event include the Central Florida Sports Commission, Cirque du Soleil/La Nouba and ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
This is the first time the World Acrobatic Gymnastics Championships has been held outside of Europe since its inception in 1974. The World Acrobatic Gymnastics Championships, since they came under the FIG umbrella in 1999, have been held in Ghent, Belgium (1999); Wroclaw, Poland (2000, 2010); Riesa, Germany (2002); Lievin, France (2004); Coimbra, Portugal (2006); and Glasgow, Scotland (2008).
Acrobatic gymnastics combines the beauty of dance with the strength and agility of acrobatics. Routines are choreographed to music and consist of dance, tumbling, and partner skills. At the elite level, each pair or group performs a balance, dynamic and combined routine. Pyramids and partner holds characterize the balance routine, while synchronized tumbling and intricate flight elements define the dynamic exercise. An acrobatic gymnastics pair consists of a base and a top. A womenís group is comprised of a base, middle and top partner, while a menís group has a base, two middle partners and one top partner.
International Gymnastics Federation (FIG): The International Gymnastics Federation is the governing body for gymnastics worldwide. It is the oldest established international sports federation and has participated in the Olympic Games since their revival in 1896. The FIG governs seven disciplines: gymnastics for all, menís artistic, womenís artistic, rhythmic, trampoline, aerobic and acrobatic. It counts 130 national affiliated federations and boasts a 25-person staff at its international seat in Lausanne, Switzerland, host city of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
USA Gymnastics. Based in Indianapolis, USA Gymnastics is the national governing body for gymnastics in the United States. Its mission is to encourage participation and the pursuit of excellence in the sport. Its disciplines include menís and womenís artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, trampoline and tumbling, acrobatic gymnastics and group gymnastics.
For more information, log on to www.usagym.org.
Team USA schedule
Monday, April 16
- Mixed Group, dynamic: 10.42am
- Womenís Group, balance: 12.05am
- Womenís Pair, balance: 2.45pm
- Mixed Pair, balance: 7.30pm
- Womenís Group, dynamic: 8.10pm
Tuesday, April 17
- Womenís Pair, dynamic: 10.52am
- Mixed Pair, combined: 3.50pm
- Womenís Group, combined: 4pm
- Womenís Pair, combined: 4.51pm